With gas prices on the rise, a home office makes more sense than ever. Do you have the tech tools to work efficiently no matter where you are? Here are four options appropriate for nearly any small business:
Remote Desktop: the simplest solution, a remote-login service like GoToMyPC or Windows Remote Desktop allows you to access your work computer from another location. When you start these services, a window will open that shows the desktop of your work computer. You can run programs, open files, and even print documents as if you were in the office.
GoToMyPC is subscription-based, allowing access from any computer with an internet connection, whereas Remote Desktop is built into most versions of Windows but requires a little more complex set-up.
VPN: VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a slightly different method of remote connection. It’s ideal for workers with company laptops, giving them mobile access anywhere they have an internet connection. It works by creating a secure, encrypted tunnel through the internet so that you can access resources on your business network. You can open files on network drives, connect to your Exchange server to get email in Outlook, and more. It requires special setup on the PC you use to connect, and you have to have all the software you need installed on that same PC.
Terminal Server: for offices with branch locations that work closely together, a Windows Terminal Server or Citrix environment can work well. These work much like Remote Desktop, above, except everyone logs into a central server where all the software is installed. It’s quick because files remain on the server and don’t have to be downloaded. The only thing sent over the remote connection is a screen image.
Web-Based Software: many companies use hosted software, which runs on a remote server. That means that everyone, whether at home or in the office, is connecting remotely via the web. In this case, no special setup is involved for telecommuting. Web-based email is a common example; even Outlook has a web-based equivalent that you can get hosted remotely. Major software programs like QuickBooks and Act! have online versions meant for collaboration, and online-only CRM vendor Salesforce.com prides itself on eliminating the need for software downloads.